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The Value of Things: Houston Texans WR crunch

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By: VBallRetired

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Who will be in and who will be out?

The NFL calendar moves on unabated. The rookie minicamps are coming to a close and the voluntary team camps are almost upon us. As most people in the league know, the word “voluntary” has air quotes around it. It is always notable when someone isn’t at the voluntary workouts, so for all purposes the 2024 season is getting underway this week.

Naturally, it coincides with the schedule release that will come later on this week. The NFL always lets some crumbs drop to the proverbial ground before releasing the whole schedule. We know who the Houston Texans will play and we know they will not be a part of the opening game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Yet, that is a September problem. For hundreds of players, just getting to September employed is a huge deal. Every roster has about a dozen guys that are almost exclusively backups and special teams players. There are probably 15-20 more guys that could theoretically take those slots. Teams can carry 53 guys with another roughly dozen on the practice squad. Every position feels the crunch, but in Houston there will be no bigger competition than the competition at the wide receiver position.

We will split the receivers into three categories. We have guys that are the legit starters and they can safely go about their business. We have the guys that are probably depth behind those guys, but are likely safe from being cut. Then, we have the bubble guys that are all fighting for those last one or two slots. We might even have some surprise cuts in this projection.

Automatic Starters

Nico Collins— I’m not sure whether Collins is a Pro Bowl receiver or just a guy that had a really good season. In the rearview mirror everything makes sense. On the windshield we can only guess. Either way, he is one of the starting wide receivers as long as he is healthy.

Tank Dell— How will he recover from the broken leg and gunshot wound? You always worry about smaller guys that rely on speed and quickness. If they lose a step they could go from great to mediocre or worse overnight. If he simply does what he did last season for 15 or 16 games then he likely makes the Pro Bowl.

Stefon Diggs— You’ll notice I always hedge my bets. Fans can get caught up in what I lovingly call “magical thinking.” In other words, fans focus on all of the positives and ignore the negatives. I think Diggs will perform well and flourish in this system, but we can’t ignore the warning signs of a season where he faded down the stretch and bitched his way out of town.

Depth Pieces

Noah Brown— He had flashes of brilliance last year, but he is best served in this role. As the first guy off the bench you could do a whole lot worse. As a featured player you could do a whole lot better. The key will be keeping him healthy.

Robert Woods— Houston sports fans have heard enough of the “back of baseball/football card” nonsense floating around the last several weeks. Woods is not the guy that caught all of those balls in Los Angeles. He was a reliable threat on third downs when open. The question is whether anyone else could do that for far less.

On the Bubble

Xavier Hutchinson— I was high on him on draft day last year. He was tremendously productive at Iowa State, so I thought there was a chance he could be here too. Maybe he still can be, but he will need to show that now as the number crunch begins in earnest.

John Metchie III- The annals of history might some day label this as a draft bust. Cancer sucks. I can’t call anyone a draft bust that had that terrible disease. However, the facts are pretty clear. He needs to show up and ball out or he might be looking for another team to latch onto.

Steven Sims— For one fleeting moment, the Texans were in the divisional playoff game and it was because this guy returned a punt for a touchdown. If he stands out as a returner that could be his ticket on the roster.

Ron Skowronek— He was the special teams captain for the Rams. We love us some special teams guys here in Houston, so something tells me his sticking if at least in that capacity. That’s bad news for some other guys.

Cannon Food

Jaden Janke— One half of the UDFA twins will compete in training camp and likely get a ton of reps in the Hall of Fame game. They aren’t even bubble guys at this point, but every year there is some guy from this list that makes a huge impression in camp and makes a roster.

Jaxon Janke— See Jaden Janke.

Johnny Johnson III— He made an appearance last season during the season. We have to think of rosters four dimensionally with time as the last dimension. You have camp bodies and practice squads for a reason. They can be called on in November and December when injuries begin to decimate your rosters.

Jared Wayne— I couldn’t pick this guy out of a lineup. Like the others, he will get time in training camp when you need numbers to give the regulars a break.

Originally posted on Battle Red Blog – All Posts